The Role of A Victim Advocate
We'd like to introduce you to one of our staff members, Kelly Simone Mason, our Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Victim Advocate.
In her role, she provides emotional support to adult victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. She follows up on hotline calls from adults and reaches out to survivors to explain what services are available from Hopeful Horizons. She also refers them to other agencies when needed. Kelly Simone continues to follow up with survivors for several months after the initial call.
She recently worked with a victim of sexual assault who lives in South Carolina and after being assaulted in another state, returned home to get a sexual assault kit done. A month later the victim started receiving bills. (Victims do not have to pay for their medical services related to a sexual assault kit.) Kelly Simone worked to get the bills placed on hold and worked with both states and two health systems. It took six weeks, but the bill ended up being dropped completely.
Kelly Simone also answers the crisis line and assists the callers in getting help. A female called in to the crisis line and was very upset. Kelly offered to meet the client in person to complete the intake in a more personal manner, they met at a local coffee shop where they talked for over 2 hours. Kelly connected the client with services to include counseling with a Hopeful Horizons therapist. This caller is still a client and getting the help she needs to heal.
She has worked with survivors to help them find jobs, find suitable living arrangements, get needed medications and help them get clothing and household goods after they have fled from abusive situations. She has also provided criminal justice advocacy by assisting clients with filing police reports and providing emotional support during court proceedings.
Kelly Simone accompanies victims of sexual assault at the hospital and she’s seen an uptick in calls recently. Her idea of a “best possible hospital experience” is when the hospital staff keeps her informed and she’s able to help the victim and the hospital staff throughout the process.
She works closely with Heather Dollar, a forensic nurse examiner who works within the 14th Circuit Victims Services Center (VSC). Heather is called first by the hospital when a victim arrives. She then calls Kelly Simone, who said it takes about 4 hours for the sexual assault kit to be done. She and Heather working together means that victim doesn’t have to retell her story multiple times.
Kelly Simone is also a part of Hopeful Horizons’ Case Management Outreach Team that “papers the town” with information on our services. Kelly Simone, along with our legal advocate, shelter case manager and transitional housing coordinator, visit the outlying communities with Hopeful Horizons brochures and posters. They place posters in restrooms and provide materials to businesses where women might frequent.
Hopeful Horizons’ support group for sexual assault survivors is run by Kelly Simone. For information on the support group or to attend, call us at 800-868-2632.
She is located at the Family Justice Institute Victim Services Center. We welcome walk-ins at this location, 108 Traders Cross, Okatie.
If you need assistance, please call our 24/7 hotline at 800-868-2632.
Kelly Simone is a member of the human trafficking task force and the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council. She is co-chair of the Sexual Assault Response Team, a multi-disciplinary approach to sexual assault where we bring everyone to the table who has anything to do with sexual assault services (law enforcement, hospitals, colleges, etc.).